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Peshtigo Fire
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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From our readers

Dear Editor:

My father, Richard J. Hallen, was born in 1929 in Marinette, served in the Air Force, and died in Marinette in 1974.

My mother, Florence O. Forstrom, was also born in Marinette, in 1936, and supported my father through his military service. She died in Phoenix, Ariz. in 2005.

I am the oldest of their four children, along with Michael, Diana and James.

Our father was the son of Joseph Hallen and Gertrude Kahne/Koehn of Carney Boulevard, Marinette. The house that Great-Grandpa Godfrey Hallen built stood where the playground for the Lutheran School is now. I don’t know of any living relatives in the area, except for Bette Becker in Peshtigo, my Grandma Gert’s cousin.

Our mother was the daughter of Thure Forstrom of Sweden and Constance Peterson of Menekaunee. They lived at Wells and Logan. My Aunt Lucille (Forstrom) Konell still lives in Marinette, and so does her daughter Sandye (Konell) Lofman.

I have done a great deal of family history on my pioneer relatives in Marinette County. On both sides of my father’s family, there are survivors of the Peshtigo Fire: Godfrey and Barbara (Bohman) Hallen on Grandpa Joe’s side, and Joseph and Sophia (Schellk) Martin on Grandma Gert’s side.

Great-Grandmother Barbara Bohman came from Austria in the 1860’s, with her father Joseph and siblings. Mary Bohman married Matthew Tillman, and they had a boarding house in Marinette. Anna Bohman married Peter Thull, and there may still be Thull cousins in Marinette county. Michael Bohman married Maria Rauner, and he built a brewery in Menominee. Franziskca Bohman married Julius Plutchak, and they lived in Daggett, Mich.

Great-Grandfather Godfrey Hallen came from Germany in 1856 with his parents, Herman and Elizabeth, and his siblings. They settled in Waterford, Racine County, Wisconsin. His oldest half-brother was Henry Wink, who came to America first, in 1854. Henry was the baptismal sponsor for little Elisabeth (Lisel) Hallen, Godfrey and Barbara’s first child, who went through the Fire with them on their way to Marinette in October 1871. Henry was a veteran of the Civil War, and the Cemetery Committee recently helped me restore his family grave plots at Forest Lawn.

Cynthia L. Hallen

Associate Professor,

Linguistics & English Language

Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah

Here is a children’s story about my German immigrant ancestors:

LISEL and LOKI

by Cynthia L. Hallen

This is a short story about a little girl named Lisel and her dog named Loki. They lived in Wisconsin a long time ago.

Lisel’s Papa, Godfrey, came from Germany to Wisconsin in 1856. Lisel’s Mama, Barbara, came from Austria to Wisconsin in 1867.

Godfrey and Barbara met at Auntie Tillman’s boarding house in Marinette, Wisconsin. They got married in St. Mary’s Cathedral at Green Bay in 1869.

They moved down south to Waterford, Wisconsin. They lived with Godfrey’s parents, Herman and Elizabeth.

Godfrey and Barbara’s first baby was born on January 31, 1870. They named their daughter Elizabeth, but they called her Lisel.

“She never walks, she dances!” said Mama Barbara.

When Lisel was a toddler, the family moved back to Marinette.

On the way up north, they were caught in the terrible Peshtigo Fire of October 1871. They had to go into the Peshtigo River to save their lives.

Papa Godfrey held Lisel on his shoulders, and Mama Barbara prayed for help.

When they came out of the river after the fire, they saw a lost dog. The dog wagged his long wet tail and panted a smile.

“He is a good dog,” said Papa Godfrey.

The dog followed them to Auntie Tillman’s boarding house in Marinette. They named him Loki because he was lucky to survive the fire.

Godfrey built a log cabin in a large meadow. It became the first home on Carney Boulevard.

Barbara made Lisel a little rag doll with button eyes. Lisel named her dolly Mary, and she played with Loki.

But Lisel was still weak from the cold water of the river and the black smoke of the fire.

One day Lisel dropped her dolly, and Loki took it to the frame house wall that Godfrey was building.

When winter came, Lisel got sick with a bad fever, and she was crying for her dolly: “Mary! Mary!”

Godfrey and Barbara looked for the dolly, but they did not see it in the frame house wall.

Lisel died on a sad day in 1873, and Loki the dog disappeared. They found Loki dead on Lisel’s grave three days later.

Godfrey and Barbara had other children who grew up and lived a long time: Michael, Anna, Barbara, Mary, Margaret, Kate, Elizabeth, Fred, and Joseph.

Godfrey and Barbara never told the other children about Lisel because they were too sad.

One day Elizabeth was helping her parents remodel the old frame house that Godfrey had built.

When Ewald the handyman found a rag doll inside the wall, Godfrey and Barbara hugged each and cried: “Mary! Mary!”

Elizabeth was surprised, so they told her about the fire and the fever and the dolly.

They told her about their first little child Lisel and her lucky dog Loki.

“She never walked, she danced!” said Mama Barbara.

“He was a good dog,” said Papa Godfrey.

(My Great-Aunt Elizabeth Hallen Siebenthal told me this story when she was 90 years old. And now I am telling you this story from our family history.)



To the Editor:

The Race Committee for the Ella Smetana Memorial Run & Walk extends a very sincere thank you to the businesses and community members who supported this event either financially, through donated items, or by participating on July 3. Many people stepped forward to make this event a success, but the hard work and dedication of Amy Okray and Carla Demeuse were especially important. We also would be remiss if we weren't to mention the Marinette Police Department for keeping our route safe, and Judy Alwin and the entire Welcome Center Staff for answering questions and taking walk in registrations right up until the day before the event!

While we are still totaling, the event took in over $4,000. Once all of our bills are paid, we will announce exactly how much money was left to donate to our benefiting charity, The American Cancer Society. We anticipate close to a $2,000 donation in Ella Smetana's memory.

A total of 281 people ran and walked the 5K route on Sunday. Some were fast - local runner Mark Jasper won the event with a time of 17:54, and Jenny Metzler was the first woman to cross the bridge into Stephenson Island in 20:16. Some slowly walked the route, chatting, and enjoying the beautiful day. All present started the day with a moment of silence or prayer for Ella or someone they know and love battling cancer.

Without the support of our community, this event would not have been the remarkable success it was. Thank you, very sincerely, for your contribution to this event, and this worthy cause. Next year, we anticipate our event will be even bigger and better!

Sincerely yours,

Pam Berg, Race Director,

Ella Smetana Memorial Run/Walk



To the Editor:

There is a Republican primary election on July 19 to see who will run against our current 12th district state Senator “flee the state Democrat” Jim Holperin. The two choices are Robert Lussow and Kim Simac. Lussow is currently Lincoln county board chairman. He has been a board member for 11 years. Simac is a private citizen who led the recall petition drive. She is a Tea Party leader and President of Northwoods Patriots.

Both candidates support the new collective bargaining law, but Lussow doesn't like the cuts to education.

Well maybe back on May 28, 2010, when the U.S. Secretary of Education announced that an additional $236,721,210 is now available to Wisconsin under the “shovel ready” stimulus plan some of it could have been spent on education. The total given to Wisconsin to that date was $ 1.4 Billion. All the funds went to provide funding for more than 7000 education jobs.

Do you see anywhere in this report any amount of money going to our schools? Doesn't the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) care about the quality of education in our state? I was led to believe everything they did was for the children.

Mark your calendars and make sure you vote on July 19 and vote for the common sense, constitutional candidate, Kim Simac. The general election will be held Aug. 16, 2011.

Ken Rozmiarek,

Silver Cliff


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841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
Phone: 715-582-4541
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